Zippy Radish Salad with Green Onions and Lemon Zest

Zesty, peppery, biting – the flavor of a freshly picked radish is anything but tame.  For this reason, many people tend to shy away from this surprisingly versatile veggie that also happens to be a nutritional powerhouse.

I must admit, radishes hold a very special place in my heart.  On the night we were engaged, my husband Brandon and I ate at a farm to table restaurant in Door County, where we had a perfect appetizer of jewel-toned radishes served with smoked sea salt. In celebration of this simple, yet unforgettable dish, we served radishes as a starter at our wedding as well.  So yeah, I like radishes.

This weekend, my best pal and fellow dietetics student Chetney and I teamed up to do a cooking demonstration at our local farmers market.  We shared and handed out samples of two recipes that showcased some of the season’s best produce, donated by one of the market vendors, Kettle Rock Farm. Our “Zippy Radish Salad” was a big hit, as was the Kickin’ Kale Hummus that’ll be popping up on Chetney’s blog soon.  Under our paper lantern-adorned tent, we prepared this salad from scratch amidst eager market patrons and handed out samples, in response to which many people commented, “I don’t like radishes, but this is delicious!”

Here’s us all apron-ed out in between demos:

Chetney and I at the market

Not only are radishes de-lish, but they’re also a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and some pretty amazing phytonutrients called isothiocyanates, which are also found in broccoli, kale, and the other cruciferous veggies we’ve all come to love.  Isothiocyanates (try saying that three times fast) are known to help rid the body of carcinogens and to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by essentially causing them to self destruct. Read more about these fascinating compounds here.

But now onto the recipe: the reason this super-simple salad was beloved even by the radish-averse is because it tames the vegetable’s bite while allowing just enough of its “zip” to shine through.  It’s like that one perfect dress that plays up all your nice parts while hiding your less-favorite spots. The bulk of the salad is raw chopped radishes and green onions. The “dressing” is plain, whole milk yogurt, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.  The creamy, tangy yogurt plays so well against the sharp flavors of onion and radish while lemon zest brightens everything to just the right flavor-hue to please nearly every palate.  Enjoy with all your favorite picnic foods this summer, replete with pride in your ability to say “isothiocyanates” with a mouthful of zippy radish salad!

radish salad

Zippy Radish Salad
serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups radishes, chopped into matchsticks
3-4 green onions, sliced into thin rounds, green and white parts
1/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1 tsp lemon zest
pepper to taste
1/4 tsp salt, added just before serving

Method:

Combine chopped radishes and green onions in a medium serving bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together yogurt, lemon zest and pepper in a separate bowl, then pour over vegetables and stir to combine. Just before serving, stir in salt.

Note: if you stir in the salt right away and allow the salad to sit before serving, the radishes will lost their crunch and the salad will become watery.

***Try adding chopped fresh dill, basil, mint or other seasonal herbs for a new flavorful twist!***

zippy radish salad

Nutrition Information – Thank you Chetney for calculating these out!
serving size = ¼ salad

Calories: 18
Fat: 1g
Carbohydrate: 2g
Sugar: 1g
Protein: 1g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 157mg
Vitamin A: 8% DV
Vitamin C: 8% DV
Calcium: 4% DV
Iron: 8% DV

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Fingerling Potato Salad with Celery, Bacon and Arugula

Over the ramparts you tossed
The scent of your skin and some foreign flowers
Tied to a brick
Sweet as a song
The years have seemed short but the days were long.

-The ShinsJuly 26, 2013 009

This week’s second salad will stick to your ribs if you let it.  It’s busting out with crispy bacon and buttery fingerling potatoes.  It also has plenty of green bits: celery hearts, celery leaves, and baby arugula.  It’s awesome still warm or at room temperature.  I’ve eaten it cold straight from the fridge this week several times too.  The original recipe calls for watercress. I opted for baby arugula because I wanted its bitter bite to perk up the milder flavors of potatoes and celery.potato salad1

We picnicked with this salad on Tuesday evening at Chill on the Hill, an outdoor summer concert series here in Milwaukee.  Also in the cooler:  half a roasted chicken and a bottle of Gnarly Head red.  I sliced up a nectarine and threw a handful of blueberries into whole milk yogurt with a glug of maple syrup and called it dessert.  So fresh.

fruit salad

The food was good; the beats were funky; the mosquitoes weren’t biting; it was summer.

What more could an earthling ask for?

potatoes1potatosaladrecipe

Fingerling Potato Salad with Celery, Bacon and Arugula

modified from a recipe in Martha Stewart Living- July 2012

“Martha” says: Assembling this potato salad while the potatoes are still warm is key. They’ll absorb more flavor from the vinegar and oiil, and the heat will also slightly wilt the celery and [arugula].

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds fingerling or other small potatoes

6 slices thick cut bacon (I used venison bacon, you could do turkey or tempeh bacon!)

6 celery stalks, sliced thin

1/2 cup celery leaves

2 cups arugula

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

celery

Method:

Put the potatoes in a big pot covered by 2 inches with cold water.  Salt the water generously.  Bring the potatoes to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until just barely tender. Check them often by piercing with a fork or knife.  It should take between 8 and 12 minutes depending on your spuds.

While potatoes cook, fry up your bacon in a skillet under crispy, but not burned.  Remove from pan onto paper towel and when cool enough, chop into bite-sized chunks.  Reserve the bacon grease for another use, such as bacon-flavored popcorn!

When the potatoes are done, drain them.  When they’re just cool enough to handle, cut each lengthwise and place in a bowl.  Dress potatoes with oil and vinegar, salt and pepper.  Fold in the celery and leaves, arugula.  Add the bacon if serving immediately, otherwise hold off on adding it until chow time for optimal crispness.

Serves 6-ish.  Or two at a picnic and in several lunches throughout the week.

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Red Leaf and Scallion Salad with Olive Bread Croutons & Feta

In the reflection of my laptop screen I can see thousands of leaves blowing in unison against a perfect ratio of cloud to sky.  With a quick change in focus I can see the words forming, black on white, a blog post, finally, after too many months of silence.

This summer rushed in and blessed me with a new job, a new home, and plenty of occasions for cooking and sharing meals with family and friends.  I’ve been tying up swimsuit strings, catching toads, and playing Candy Land with the two little girls I’ve nanny-ed for since June.  Also, I’ve picked out curtains for all the windows in our new apartment, organized my cookbooks on the nifty built-in bookshelves, and explored the neighborhood on new running routes with my husband as we train for our first half-marathon.  I’ve cooked and baked for birthdays and picnics and enjoyed every bite of my summer.

My husband Brandon enjoying his birthday gift: a king crab leg feast

My husband Brandon enjoying his birthday gift: a king crab leg feast

And now it’s time to dedicate some moments to sharing something here.  This week, I’ll offer up two humble summer salads. They’re eager for outdoor concerts, potlucks, or nights when the grill is off-duty.  I recommend chasing them with a bottle of red or white under the blue and cheers-ing every last drop of summer.

At a bonfire with friends from the dietetics program. (yes, we roasted vegan marshmallows!)

At a bonfire with friends from the dietetics program. (yes, we roasted vegan marshmallows!)

The first salad I’ll share is something I whipped up with the contents of our first CSA box.  It’s built on a tender mound of red leaf lettuce and dressed with a classic shallot vinaigrette – but there’s more to love – thinly sliced sweet-pungent scallions, crunchy rustic red peppers, salty feta, and… olive bread croutons(!!!).

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Red leaf and scallion salad with olive bread croutons and feta

ingredients:

half a loaf olive bread

head of leaf lettuce

4-5 scallions (green and white parts)

rustic red pepper (aka long pepper)

good feta cheese, crumbled

olive oil

white wine vinegar

shallots or garlic

Dijon mustard

s & p

 

Throw it together:

To make the croutons, I sliced day-old olive bread (you can use any kind of chewy, artisan bread) into 1 inch cubes. I put the bread cubes on a sheet pan, thinly coated them with olive oil, and baked for 10 minutes at 425° F.  *Check your croutons frequently*  We’re looking for browned edges with crispy outsides and chewy insides.  Friends, trust me on this, you’ve got to have the chewy insides.

From there, roughly chop up a head of leaf lettuce (mine was red, yours might be green, or purple!), thinly slice 4 or 5 scallions (aka green onions), and slice a rustic red pepper into strips.  Then, put all the veggies in a nice bowl, surround them with a halo of croutons, and top with feta.  (I also added toasted sunflower seeds after I took the photos.)

For the dressing, glug your preferred ratio of olive oil and vinegar into a jar with a tight fitting lid, mince some shallots or garlic and thow them in the pool.  Squirt in a dollop of Dijon mustard and grind in salt and pepper.  Shake the jar vigorously (with the lid on, silly!) until the dressing is emulsified.

salad2

I served the dressing on the side so the croutons wouldn’t get soggy.  You can thank me later for their chewy insides.  😉